The last few days have been harrowing here in Victoria, Australia, as thousands of people have lost their homes and hundreds their lives in savage bushfires. I was a teenager growing up on the edge of the Dandenong ranges when the Ash Wednesday fires devastated so much of the local areas, and was visiting the area in 1997 when fire burned out the forest above the house I was to later buy (the ‘little house on a hillside near a forest’ which I sold last year). Although I’ve been lucky, growing up and living on the edge of an area notorious for bushfire does make you very aware of the dangers and terrible consequences. Just the smell of smoke can make me edgy.
These fires have been far, far worse. It’s early days yet, and there are many theories being discussed as to why, but whatever the reason the result has been tragic.
My heartfelt sympathies go to all those who have lost loved ones, and also to those who lost homes, pets, livestock and businesses. There is a list of ways to help on the ABC site – from donating money and clothing to giving blood to minding pets. The Red Cross appears to be the main fundraiser, but don’t forget the smaller charities – Wildlife Victoria, for example, which lost two animal shelters and is likely to be inundated with injured animals.